Pine Bluff’s City Council has rejected a request from the parks and recreation commission to be represented by City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott should former Parks and Recreation Department Director Angela Parker appeal her Sept. 23 firing in circuit court.
The council was in unanimous agreement against the notion, which was presented in resolution form. The commission, in an emergency meeting last week, unanimously favored acquiring Hadden-Scott’s representation over hiring a private attorney.
In voicing his opposition to the commission’s request, Alderman George Stepps said such an arrangement had never been enacted with an independent commission. The majority of the parks and recreation department’s funding comes from the city, but it is not directly managed by the city.
“We don’t want to send out the wrong message,” said Stepps, noting that independent commissions have always employed their own attorneys in such legal matters.
Stepps said if the city attorney were to represent any commission in a court case, the same would be rightfully expected by all such panels.
Alderwoman Thelma Walker presented another view on the issue, saying that if Parker takes legal recourse against the commission, “She sues the city, and we have the Arkansas Municipal League” and its attorneys “on our side.”
Alderman Bill Brumett said he had heard Parker has secured an attorney who is seeking a filing extension on an appeal.
Parker was terminated in a 6-2 commission vote for what Chairwoman Kami Hunt said was “failure to properly supervise employees and parks,” which Hunt said was reflected in a recent performance review on Parker. “She has not met expectations,” Hunt said of Parker.
A termination of Parker was recommended to the full commission by its personnel committee on Dec. 27, 2012, but the commission two weeks later reinstated and then placed Parker on an extended probation.